What to look out for in a collectible passport

As announced earlier, here a specific article on criteria, a collector should watch out for when acquiring a collectible passport. I collect passports since 2003, and since then, I gained solid knowledge and experience when it comes to passport collecting and passport history. At the same time, I made myself a name when it comes to this topic. Not only I wrote a book about passport history, but I also had several interviews with notable media outlets and still writing always for different websites and magazines on passport history. The latest article will be for the oldest watch manufacturer in the world – Vacheron Constantin. VC is publishing a limited and exclusive hardcover magazine, and only ten collectors are invited each year to tell their story. In 2020, I was one of them. Only 80 collectors in total have been interviewed so far – worldwide! More details in my testimonials and references.

What are the aspects a collector should watch out for when adding a new collectible passport into its collection?

  1. Is the document complete?
    All pages, cover, passport photo (from 1915 on)
  2. Check out the entries, signatures, names, stamps, and visas.
    These characteristics are essential for a document and can potentially increase its value or make the passport at least more interesting.
  3. Always do a name/signature research.
    You might have a prominent bearer/signer (e.g., consul/ambassador), it’s not always obvious.
  4. Are there any unusual findings?
    I had, e.g., for years a British passport in a letter case until one day, I detected a hidden folder with another passport in it. Yes, it can happen.
  5. Are you interested in revenue stamps?
    Some revenue stamps can be quite valuable for stamp collectors. Check them occasionally if they don’t look ordinary.
  6. Are you detail-oriented and a collector of passport versions?
    Then also check the form/template (e.g., form number) of the passport -there are different versions of the same passport.
  7. Are there forgeries out there of old passports?
    In almost two decades, I only had 2-3 forgeries. Alternations of passports are probably more frequent to find (to make the document more attractive and eventually more valuable). Take a more in-depth look if dates, signatures, stamps, and visas are matching together.
  8. Damages
    Torn pages or loose cover? Mold? Water spots? Corroded staples? Remains of glue? Some of these damages can be easily fixed or reduced.
  9. Collect quality instead of quantity!
    I can’t say it often enough. Thank me later.

Do you have some tips which should be added?

I have a detailed passport history and passport collecting guideline in my book LET PASS OR DIE, but I can send you also a summary as pdf by email. Just drop me a line.


100 Years Anniversary – The Passport Photo

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